What is the Proper Way to Write a Formal Thank You Letter for a Scholarship?

Express thanks for scholarships by writing a formal thank you letter on quality stationery.
Express thanks for scholarships by writing a formal thank you letter on quality stationery. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

College costs continue to rise, and although many students turn to student loans to help cover expenses related to tuition, housing, student fees and books, scholarships can be a tremendous boon since they don’t need to be repaid. Scholarships are considered to be gifts of money or resources – and all gifts deserve a thank you letter. Demonstrating your professionalism with a formal thank you letter can be a proper way of expressing gratitude while establishing a positive relationship with the donor. Since some scholarships are ongoing, expressing thanks can help foster positive relations that will encourage the continuance of the scholarship for subsequent academic years.


Scholarship thank you letters should be written in a business format, starting by listing the donor’s contact address and formal salutation such as “Dear National Scholarship Association,” followed by a comma. The first paragraph should explain why you’re writing; in this case, you’re writing to thank the donors for a particular scholarship and scholarship amount. In your second paragraph, share information about yourself including academic background, future professional goals and how this scholarship will further these pursuits. A closing paragraph restates your gratitude and asserts that you’ll do your best to honor the intentions of the donor, proving their investment a worthy cause. Finally, sign your name in black ink and include contact information below your name.


The proper timing for writing a scholarship thank you letter is directly after learning that you’ve been selected as the candidate. This is more gracious than waiting for the actual funds to arrive; your thanks should express gratitude for being selected from other worthy candidates, not for the fresh cash in your bank account. Waiting longer increases the risk that you’ll offend donors for not acknowledging their honor earlier – or forgetting entirely that you intended to write a thank you letter.


Content isn’t the only thing you’ll want to consider when writing a formal thank you letter. Use a traditional font, black ink and quality stationery to remain within the business letter format. Avoid exclamation points and emoticons. Double-check for spelling or grammatical errors, and be especially sure that you’ve correctly spelled the donor’s name and scholarship title. Sending an email in lieu of a formal thank you letter isn’t considered proper etiquette.


While not necessary, it’s gracious to send your scholarship donor another letter at the end of the academic year to summarize your accomplishments and explain how their scholarship money contributed to your success. This can help keep the exchange personal, especially for ongoing scholarships.

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